Sustainability in College

Elizabethtown College
1 Alpha Dr Elizabethtown, PA 17022
United States
41° 4' 56.1792" N, 73° 36' 56.6604" W


Starting college can be super stressful. You are focused on classes, activities, and making new friends. For many college students (including myself) it can be hard balancing all of your responsibilities while still being aware of your environmental impact. Hopefully these tips can help you live a little more sustainably in an easy and fun way!


Don’t Use as Much Single-Use Plastic

You’ve probably heard this before, but that’s because it’s important. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest factors for harming oceans and wildlife and single-use plastic is a large contributor. Reusable bottles and dishes are a great way to reduce your plastic use. Plus, think of how much more water you’ll want to drink when it’s from a cute bottle! Using paper or metal straws instead of plastic can also be an easy addition to your everyday coffee routine. Many colleges have coffee shops on campus and some even allow you to use your own cups instead of plastic ones. If you have a large enough fridge, Brita water filters (or any off-brand filter) allows you to use your school’s tap for extra clean drinking water. 


Be Conscious of Your Paper Use

If your classes are like mine, then reading is a big part of homework, research and essays. Whether it’s an article, short story or thesis, printing assignments can use A LOT of paper. To help save some trees, hop on the digital age wave. Taking notes and reading assignments are becoming more and more acceptable in classrooms. But, if your professor has a no technology policy in the classroom, make sure to use both sides of your notebook paper and check for mistakes before printing to avoid having to reprint. For a more sustainable approach to textbooks, buy the electronic or used copy. This reduces the printing of new books and used copies are usually cheaper anyway.



At some point in the semester, you will probably get tired of dining hall food. It happens to the best of us. If you have the ability to cook healthy and yummy meals in your dorm or apartment, why not? But, it takes a lot of plastic and transportation to get your fruits and veggies to your nearest grocery store. To avoid this, go to a farmer’s market near your campus. Not only are you eating healthy ingredients and reducing resources used, but you are also supporting small local businesses! And don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bag for your productive Sunday morning.


If you’re like me, retail therapy is a real thing. There’s nothing quite like buying a super cute dress or a pair of trendy shoes that you saw on Instagram. But, the fashion industry has some catching up to do in terms of sustainability. The industry not only harms the environment, but many brands still use cheap labor to produce their clothes. But, some clothing brands, such as Everlane and Reformation, are trying their best to be more sustainable and ethical. Although these brands are good to shop at, many college students need more wallet-friendly options to shop sustainably. A few of those options would be ThredUP, Depop, and Poshmark. These secondhand apps have a great mix of trendy and vintage pieces that are a lot more affordable than their sale prices. You also have the option to post and sell your own pieces to make some extra money. 

Another option for students on a budget who want to rock some new pieces is to borrow from your roommate/friends. You will make some great girlfriends in college and most likely they will have some clothes, shoes, and accessories that they’ll let you use. And if you want to spice up your own wardrobe, let your friends dress you. They might pair your items in a way you didn’t think of. Plus it’s super fun to style new outfits before going to a party or dance!